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The first thing I would suggest is to be patient. There are far worse things to invest in than mutual funds, and you only create more problems for yourself by rushing into stocks you don't understand and aren't comfortable with.

You might want to slowly build a list of a few companies, maybe no more than five, to consider putting your first stock investment in. As time goes on, you can slowly expand the list.

You might want to make is a monthly excercise to decide which company to invest in a particular month. Or maybe take 3 or more months.

The Motley Fool online boards can be a good source of information, but they can be time consuming, and frankly, some of them have a lower signal to noise ration for my taste. You can learn a lot about companies from some of them, but read carefully. My best research on companies has come from reading over the data I've compiled and focusing on the companies of interest in a quiet room, away from the online chatter. There are great resources online, but spending all of your time online is not the most productive way to research companies in my opinion.

As for Rule Maker companies, I suggest looking back 5 years through the financial data, to make sure the Rule Maker is not a Rule Faker.

Take you time, and good luck.

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